From Struffoli to the Manchestini - try the food and drink inspired by the city’s iconic symbol
When Manchester was granted status as a borough in 1842, its coat of arms included a globe with seven bees flying above it. This was to symbolise the fact that Manchester was a hive of activity in the nineteenth century with the products of the city’s industry being exported all over the world.
Manchester’s worker bee can be seen almost everywhere in the city from lampposts, bollards and bins to shop signs, company logos and even restaurant door handles.
But six months since the Manchester Arena bomb, which took the lives of 22 people and left many others injured, this symbol of Manchester has taken on a deeper significance, coming to represent the city's strength, resilience and co-operation in the face of attack.
Since then, the plight of the city's iconic symbol has been brought back into focus, with wild bee populations in long-term decline.
Such is the problem, The Jury’s Inn in Manchester City centre has even constructed a hexagonal Bee Hotel to offer shelter to the local bee population over the cold winter months, while The Printworks is offering people the chance to adopt one of it's rooftop honey bees for £2, raising money for local charities (sales of honey produced by the bees has so far raised £2000).
Many Manchester restaurants and bars have been equally galvanised, adding honey and bee pollen to special recipes and concoctions inspired by the humble bee. Here's where to find, eat and drink them:
Heavenly Honey at Manchester Cathedral
A team of Volition volunteer beekeepers have been looking after colonies of over 300,000 bees on the roof of Manchester Cathedral since 2011.The bees happily forage around the Medieval Quarter and a three mile radius of the city centre to produce Heavenly Honey. The operation is overseen by Cathedral Canon and Head Beekeeper, Adrian Rhodes.
Heavenly Honey is sold to raise funds for the Cathedral’s volunteer project Volition Community which supports the long-term unemployed in Greater Manchester to gain employment via volunteering, building confidence and providing a variety of development opportunities including looking after and caring for our bees.
The honey has limited availability and can be purchased from the Cathedral by contacting the Director for Volition, Anthony O'Connor. Or, you can try some at Salvi's (see below)...
After learning about the incredible work that the Cathedral and Volition do together for the community, Maurizio Cecco, owner of Salvi’s in the nearby Corn Exchange, wanted to get involved. So after teetering up to the Cathedral spires to take a look at the bees and talk to Anthony O’Connor and Dean Rogers who organise the project, the Salvi’s team came up some very special dishes which each include a touch of Heavenly Honey.
These include beetroot ravioli filled with ricotta and honey in a roasted pine nut, honey and pancetta sauce; Struffoli, a Neapolitan dish of deep fried marble-sized balls of dough coated in honey; Parma ham with figs and honey and bruschetta with gorgonzola and honey sauce.
Heavenly Honey is also available in the Salvi’s Deli and in Salvi’s Christmas Hampers.
Brew Wild Smoked Braggot
The Runaway Brewery and the Brew Wild Manchester team (John Mouncey, Kay Phillips and Richard Searle) have been collaborating to produce the Smoked Braggot; a warming winter supping beer. It has been made using raw and unfiltered honey supplied by beekeepers and apiaries from Greater Manchester and also contains the pollen and floral notes of the region’s summer and autumn flowers.
The brew has been inspired by a medieval honey beer recipe, re-made for modern times and fermented with special Belgium yeast. Smoked malt imparts a gentle flavour which invokes the chimney stacks of Manchester and Salford’s industrial past. The Smoked Braggot will be launched on Saturday 2nd December 6pm at The Runaway Brewery in the company of beekeepers, brewers, gardeners and like-minded friends.
A number of bars have decided to celebrate their Manchester venues by creating a bespoke drink inspired by the city. Here are three:
Alston Bar & Beef - the new steak and gin restaurant in the Corn Exchange have invented Cathedral Honey Bee’s Knees (£9.): Manchester Three Rivers Gin, shaken with Manchester Cathedral Honey, lemon juice, finished with lemon peel. 25p from every sale will be donated to Volition, the Manchester Cathedral Volunteer Programme.
Master mixologists from fifteen Malmaison hotels have been asked to invent signature cocktails inspired by each city. For Manchester they have come up with Bee Have using Hendrick’s Gin, Cointreau, honey, lemon, egg white and ginger ale.
Inspired by Manchester’s iconic mascot, Dirty Martini have come up with the Manchestini consisting of bee pollen, liquid honey, dried lavender, lemon juice, coconut water, Kalani coconut rum liquor and Manchester Gin, garnished with a mini honey dipper, encrusted with a touch of honeycomb.